Murder as news. An investigation into homicide as story content in BBC regional television news output

Demmar, K.J.A.C., 2020. Murder as news. An investigation into homicide as story content in BBC regional television news output. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

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Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to provide an original insight into the reporting of instances of murder by BBC regional television newsrooms and to answer the question why do some murders receive media attention and others little or none at all. This will be achieved through the use of Actor-Network Theory, developed by Latour (2005, 1996, 1984), Law (1987) and Callon (1986, 1980), to analyse specific murder events and show how networks of actors, both human and nonhuman, are enrolled within the storytelling process. In so doing this thesis builds upon a growing body of work including, Wiard 2019a, 2019b, Spöhrer and Ochsner 2017 and Ryfe 2017. The thesis advances the practical application of Actor-Network Theory to the news process and as such directly helps to address the call from those who seek further application of the theory to journalism studies, specifically to look at how 'technologies influence the way news is produced and consumed' Wiard (2019a p.9).

Claims to originality within this thesis lie firstly in the area of research. No previous study has produced such an in-depth and considered analysis of how murder stories become news content on British television nor has Actor-Network Theory been applied in such circumstances. Secondly, the thesis will argue that previous ideas about news values, Harcup and O'Neill (2016, 2001), Brighton and Foy (2007), Harrison (2006), MacShane (1979) and Galtung and Ruge (1965), miss a fundamental feature about what factors can influence the choices made by journalists when it comes to understanding which events become stories. It will be claimed that only by looking closely at the news production process, tracing the various alliances actors make and break, as the process is happening that a true notion of what journalists' value as news will be achieved. This theoretical approach will show that newsworthiness is mutable and fluid and not something which can be defined or confined by pre-existing beliefs. The methodological rigour of Actor-Network Theory applied using observational fieldwork will demonstrate that what is considered newsworthy alters as different sources of action struggle for supremacy and that these sources of action can only be identified by examining the news production process; crucially it will be seen that technological actors, including social media have been identified as sources of this mutability. The thesis furthers academic understanding of which factors influence this heterogeneous news process by identifying previously under considered or invisible actors. It shows that actors such as temporal, geographic and internal programme dynamics can have as influential a part to play in the reporting of murder events (or any other story) as journalists' preconceptions about who is an interesting victim.

Television news is a technological endeavour which is widening its newsgathering and storytelling to social media platforms as sources of news and as a way to engage audiences. Actor-Network Theory is concerned with material relationships Law (2009), Callon and Law (1997) Latour (1999, 1990, 1987) between human and nonhuman actors. This original investigation extends examination of the news process from television to social media in order to demonstrate how Actor-Network Theory is ideally matched to the task of identifying the specificity of actors within the fluid news production process which enrols and is enrolled by social media. By extension, this actor network examination of the use of social media further develops understanding of the mutability of news values and the appropriateness of Actor-Network Theory as a theoretical approach to understanding social media.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Demmar, K.J.A.C.
Date: December 2020
Rights: This work is the intellectual property of the author (Note: if there are other owners of the IP, as a consequence of any statement issued under paragraph 12 of Section 14A, they must also be named here). You may copy up to 5% of this work for private study, or personal, non-commercial research. Any re-use of the information contained within this document should be fully referenced, quoting the author, title, university, degree level and pagination. Queries or requests for any other use, or if a more substantial copy is required, should be directed in the owner(s) of the Intellectual Property Rights.
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 11 Mar 2021 09:17
Last Modified: 31 May 2021 15:05
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/42481

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